Stock Photography, Up Close

Talk to any professional photographer today and they’ll invariably seethe at the mention of istockphoto or other websites that are lowering the costs of stock photos (and videos), and becoming the first choice of many cost-squeezed agencies or clients.
BusinessWeek takes a closer look:

But what should photographers and graphic designers do? They need to target that part of the market that isn’t looking for the lowest price, experts say, because budget Web sites have already won those customers. “Designers as a profession should be moving up the value chain,” says the design association’s GrefĂ©. “What designers need to do is to explain that inherent in most design is the branding and the essence of the company.”
As the burden shifts to professionals to explain the value of their work, that may put some creative types out of their comfort zones (, 2/06/08), GrefĂ© says. “They have to reposition themselves in their promotional material. They have to get out and talk to small and medium size businesses. They’ve got to be in front of the Rotary Club and the Kiwanis,” he says.

Using low-cost, royalty-free stock photography means you could be using The Everywhere Girl, or HighJive’s favorite, The Hardest Working Man in Black Advertising.
What’s your agency’s attitude toward stock photography? Are your clients increasingly reluctant to pony up for a good photographer’s day rate?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. kamakazi says:

    I feel for them but it ain’t gonna happen. The use of stock art in digital campaigns happens at the earliest levels and often times the overly artsy and stylistic work is just not right for making comps. The other issue is that clients pay for the cost of the stock not the agency so the agency’s size is really irrelevant. Clients are getting spoiled by the cheap cost of digital campaigns and with the tight economy in the US right now I don’t see that changing.